Here’s a look at how the Miami Dolphins (2-0) and Buffalo Bills (2-0) face off in six key areas ahead of Sunday’s Week 3 game at Hard Rock Stadium (1 p.m., CBS):
When dolphins run: Miami started its game rushing a bit for 4.8 yards per carry in last Sunday’s 42-38 win over the Baltimore Ravens. It just didn’t splash more as there were few opportunities to play from behind most of the afternoon – let alone the Ravens who ate 11 minutes on a first-half practice on which they didn’t even score.
In Week 1, it was Chase Edmonds who got the bulk of the runs against New England. Against Baltimore, it was Raheem Mostert. Who is favored in the workload will depend on which matchups the coaches find advantageous. Right tackle Greg Little, who will replace Austin Jackson (ankle), made an excellent block on Edmonds’ late 28-yard run that put Miami in a win over the Ravens.
Buffalo, however, to no one’s surprise, is the league’s top-ranked running defense for two weeks, and the Bills just shut down running back Derrick Henry from the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. With veteran All-Pro Von Miller now at Buffalo providing an advantage and Greg Rousseau, Miami’s 2021 first-round pick, on the other, as well as Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano at linebacker, the Bills have a strong front defensive. Buffalo is hit inside the defensive line, however, with Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips out for Sunday. That could give the Dolphins opportunities in the running game, but they need left tackle Terron Armstead (questionable, toe) to be available. Edge: Invoices
When the bills run: Buffalo’s trio of running backs from South Florida will be salivating at the thought of scoring a home touchdown, especially since none of the three have yet scored in the Bills’ two blowouts. Devin Singletary (American Heritage-Delray High, FAU) is the starting running back, but rookie James Cook (Miami Central High) and Zack Moss (Hallandale High) part ways with him, so they all stay fresh.
Quarterback Josh Allen is also still a running threat, and he has 66 yards on 11 attempts plus a touchdown so far in 2022. Veteran Rodger Saffold, the 2021 Pro Bowler with the Titans, has was brought in to play guard in a strong left side of the line next to tackle Dion Dawkins.
The Dolphins were solid on run defense in Baltimore outside of the 79-yard touchdown allowed to quarterback Lamar Jackson. Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler will be counted at the line of scrimmage with Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram up front. Miami already knows they’ll be up for a big challenge against Allen in the air. They should at least keep the bills one-dimensional. Edge: dolphins
As the Dolphins pass: Tagovailoa is coming off his best performance ever, earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after throwing for 469 yards and six touchdowns as he led Miami to a thrilling 21-point comeback. After being held for two touchdowns and two interceptions for three quarters, he was finally able to expose the Ravens’ battered secondary with the two long touchdowns at Tyreek Hill on missed covers and another pair of drives.
The Bills are also struggling with injuries to their defensive backs. All-Pro Tre’Davious White is on the reserve roster/physically unable to perform. Cornerback Dane Jackson and safety Micah Hyde are also missing, with safety Jordan Poyer questionable. Buffalo, nonetheless, ranks second in the league for two weeks in pass defense, even playing up front so often when opponents can boost their late stats. But will they be as effective with rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam covering the Dolphins’ elite receiving combo?
You don’t want a bunch of guys hobbled in coverage tasked with tracking Hill, who finished with 190 receiving yards in Baltimore, and Jaylen Waddle, who had 171 and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. Buffalo can still rush the passer, though, with Miller and Rousseau on the edge, among others. It will be a challenge for Miami’s offensive tackles as Armstead deals with a toe injury and Little continues to fill in for Jackson on the right side. Edge: dolphins
When the Bills pass: Allen is known for torching the Dolphins, but Miami made progress in that regard in two meetings last year, keeping him at passer ratings of 75.2 and 100.2, his lowest since his first appearance. against the Dolphins as a rookie. His five outings between all have seen him post a passer rating above 110. Allen, in eight games against Miami, has 21 touchdowns for five interceptions as he enters a seven-game winning streak against the division rival .
This season, he completed 52 of 69 passes (75.4%) for 614 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Top receiver Stefon Diggs is having another monster season with 20 receptions for 270 yards and four touchdowns. Gabe Davis and tight end Dawson Knox are questionable heading into Sunday.
It’s a bad sign for the Dolphins that cornerback Xavien Howard missed Wednesday’s drills with a groin injury, but he and cornerbacks coach Sam Madison are confident he will. will be ready. He cruised through the win over the Ravens but didn’t look like himself when he was beaten for a long touchdown by Rashod Bateman, couldn’t catch Jackson on his touchdown and dropped a six pick. The Dolphins need to pressure Allen after their blitzes were ineffective against Jackson and the Ravens. Edge: Invoices
Special teams: Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass is perfect on three field goals and nine extra points. Sam Martin, the punter who is rarely used because the Bills offense is so productive, is averaging 48.5 yards on his punts. Buffalo uses South Florida product Isaiah McKenzie on kick returns and Jamison Crowder on kick returns.
The Dolphins gave up a 103-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff against the Ravens, so special teams coordinator Danny Crossman let his unit practice. Edge: Invoices
Intangible assets: The Dolphins have the heat and humidity of South Florida in September on their side. They have a day and a half more rest than the Bills after their last game, a win Monday night as Miami played last afternoon, plus the trip from Buffalo. The bills deal with a number of injuries. All of that gives the Dolphins the intangible advantage for the 1 p.m. kickoff in the sun at Hard Rock Stadium.
But then you also remember that the Bills defeated their first two opponents, including the defending Super Bowl champions in their house, by a total of 55 points. And Buffalo has that damn seven-game winning streak in the rivalry. Edge: dolphins
PREDICTION: Dolphins 31, Bills 27